Mamu Tropical Skywalk

My second stop of the day was the Mamu Tropical skywalk. The Mamu skywalk is located in the Wooroonooran National Park about 90mins drive from Cairns off the Palmerston Highway. The Mamu tropical skywalk is a fairly new attraction that was built after cyclone Larry. Having recently had the cyclone go through cleared out a lot of the foliage and made it easier to build the skywalk whilst minimising the impact on the environment and clearing required.

The skywalk consists of both paths that enable you to explore the forest floor as well as elevated walkways, a cantilever and an observation tower that enable you to explore the upper levels of the forest foliage as well as the canopy.

It is fairly well designed with the paths being easy to navigate and guided audio tours that introduce you to different points of interest along the way.

The cantilever is a little freaky but certainly puts you amongst the canopy and keeps you surrounded by lots of greenery.

The view from the top of the observation tower is quite spectacular. There are creeks and waterways to be seen, a never ending sea of green forest foliage and the occasional wildlife. I saw some spectacular blue butterflies although unfortunately I was not quick enough to get a photograph of them.

Definitely worth doing, does require some walking but give some spectacular views.

Book Review: The Light Between The Oceans by M.L. Stedman.

This is a book I would not have necessarily chosen to read if I was looking for a book at the library or in a bookshop. The genre is similar to what I like but there is something about the title and blurb that would not have swayed me into picking it up and starting it. However, it was a book leant to me by a friend who had already read it and said it was a good read.

The book is essentially a love story about a couple living on a remote island as lighthouse keepers. Circumstances beyond their control mean that they suffer a series of devastating blows in their efforts to have children when fate seemingly steps in to lend a helping hand an enable their dream of becoming parents. The timing of events means they make a decision they likely know is wrong in order to achieve their dream. While not bad people, they made a bad decision that ultimately cost them and other people dearly. The thing about this book is it does bring home the possibility that good people can make bad choices given certain circumstances. That doesn’t make it right though and there are still consequences for those bad choices. The author captures this concept well enabling the reader to feel sympathy for the wrong doers despite their bad decision.

It was certainly a nice easy read and a book I would recommend to someone looking for a light read. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.


More information on the book can be found here:

Hairspray Jr.

This weekend I was lucky enough to make it to my nephews’ school production. I hadn’t previously been able to attend previous school shows so it was great to be there and even better that both the two older boys were involved this year. We were all booked in for the final performance on the Saturday night, although my sister and I did sneak in and catch the Thursday night show without telling the boys in advance. Given the boys were so nervous we wanted to be there to support them but thought it would make them more nervous knowing we were in the audience. They did appreciate having us there when they found out about it after the fact. While it was a high school show and unfortunately experienced some technical glitches with the microphones, it was great.

I have always thought that some of the best memories and valuable skills you learn from high school are not about the classes and graduating but the extra stuff you get to do along the way. The musicals and shows, public speaking, sports, camps, school bands. The stuff that doesn’t get you your final score that gets you into university or whatever you want to do next but from which you learn more about yourself and other people than you could ever learn in a classroom. I loved the extra stuff I did in school, from public speaking and debating, to sports, school band and school productions. Basically, anything they would let me do I did and I was grateful later that I had taken the opportunities that came my way. I was happy to see that the boys had taken the opportunity to engage in similar experiences at school.

My nephews definitely have far more singing and dancing abilities than I ever did and both had lead roles in their production. Having not seen them in something like this before I was both excited and a bit nervous for them. They had put in so much work and were both looking forwards to seeing their hard work pay off as well as being a bit anxious about it all going well. I myself found I would watch the songs where they had solos holding my breath slightly until they were done. I needn’t have worried and neither should they. Their hard work really did pay off and they both performed really well. I hope that the memories they have from this and everything they get from participating in the show stays with them long after the curtain closed tonight.

Well done boys xx.

The Power of Statistics

Woo hoo! Winter is over! Today is the first day of Spring which means the Canberra winter has officially come to an end. This year seemed especially cold to me but was it colder than normal? That is the question and if you listened to the radio this morning it depends on which report you were listening to, as to whether it was indeed an especially cold winter. One report I heard today said that if Canberrans felt it had been a cold winter they were right, and another report said it was no colder than usual. One would think that the weather, the temperature, was a fact. Therefore, it was either colder than usual or not. That however, is the joy of statistics. When first encountering statistics in my student days, I naively thought that they were fact. They are as they are. I have since learnt that statistics, are open to interpretation and representation and some statistics are better ‘quality’ than others. While it might be true that the average temperature during winter was x degrees, there is then some flexibility in how that information is interpreted. Is it compared to the average in the past 10 years? Or since records started? Is it important to take into consideration the amount of nights below zero? The number of days over fifteen degrees? Or how long the maximum temperature was reached for on a given day? You get the general idea. The thing about statistics is that people can use them different ways. It irks me when people try to use them in a misleading way. The power of statistics is that if one does realise that they can be subject to interpretation, then they can be interpreted as fact or indeed the data can be presented differently in order to convey the desired message. For example, consider a graph where the scale is reduced so that instead of having 0 to 100%, it shows 99 to 100%. The effect of this is that a non-significant difference between two statistics can suddenly appear to be very significant. Someone presenting the information in this way can manipulate the data in order to show what they want.

In these two graphs, the data difference between the two companies looks quite different, simply by changing what is represented in the scale.

Consider another example, often we have scientific studies that can be used to show the difference between two groups. For example, maybe Group A performed better on a memory test than group B and Group A was given a dietary supplement with a magic compound whereas group B was not. This may be presented by the company in such a manner that it promotes sales of the dietary supplement. However, if not all the information is presented, it may appear that the dietary supplement makes a significant difference when really it does not. Whether the difference between the two groups is significant depends on the size of the two groups, the variability between the two groups and whether there are any other factors influencing the difference between the groups (maybe one group was older). It is also important to know how sure we are that the difference is significant- what is the probability that the difference is just due to chance?

The power of statistics is that they can be used to change people’s behavior, but the danger of statistics is that they are not the pure fact that they may initially appear to be. If one is aware of this then before making a decision based on statistic, you can look at the statistic More closely. You can examine it to see if you are truly happy with what it is representing or if the way it is being interpreted. Then you can determine if it is something on which you should allow your behavior, thoughts or decisions to be influenced by.

So next time you see a statistic presented, have a look more closely and question what it is really saying.

Spring has Sprung

Spring has sprung and winter is over! I say this as I prepare to leave the house in freezing conditions knowing that I need to allow enough time to defrost my windscreen before I depart from my driveway. Apparently the weather didn’t get the memo- there was no instantaneous end to winter just because the calendar flicked over to a new month on the calendar.

I do like this time of year. The days are starting to get longer, it isn’t as cold as often and the run up to summer starts. It is like the winter hibernation that comes out of it being so cold and dark is coming to an end. Apart from the beginning of the build up to summer, and the special time of year that is Christmas and New Year’s, Spring is a special time in its own right. The garden starts to come alive. During the winter, not much happens in the garden on two fronts. Firstly, we don’t spend much time out there as it is too cold. Secondly, things don’t grow much. In the last week or so though, everything has started to come alive. The plants that go dormant in the cold are starting to bud again and some have even already flowered. Our small peach tree on the back porch is already looking spectacular with its pink flowers which have bloomed. Everyday there is something new to see in the garden. Something that has grown, something that has new buds on it or something where the flowers have blossomed. You can go on a discovery tour every day to see what is new.

The disadvantage of the growth in the garden is that it is time to get back out there and do some work! Time to start pulling out the weeds that are also growing (why is it that they seem to grow faster than the plants?) and to tame the plants that are growing too fast or where they shouldn’t be. Time to set the plans of what we want to achieve in the garden before next winter arrives and everything goes back to being dormant again. The needing to do some work in the garden though still has its advantages from a perspective of getting back out into the sunshine and enjoying the outdoors.

The other special time about spring is that it marks the beginning of barbeque season. A time when dinner can involve chucking a couple of steaks on the barbeque and sitting outside to enjoy eating it while looking at the ever evolving, newly budding garden. Where dinner or a weekend lunch becomes a time where friends come over to enjoy a barbeque and relax outside.

So, we have survived another Canberra winter, the garden is blooming and I think that means that it is definitely time to check the gas bottle and break out the barbeque again!